There has been much written and said about the state of the Kansas economy. Loud voices on the left dominate the discussion with claims that the Kansas economy is weak, that our tax policy is unfair and that Kansas is losing jobs and businesses.
These claims are emotional and inflammatory. They also are largely untrue.
One claim is that the Kansas income tax structure and rates are unfair to lower- and middle-income families. The truth is that 91 percent of Kansas heads of households making less than $25,000 pay no state income taxes. For those making less than $50,000 per year, 63 percent pay no state income taxes.
At the same time, real income for all Kansans has grown – resulting in higher-paying jobs for more people. The median income in Kansas grew by more than $2,000 between 2011 and 2013. The income tax reductions enacted in 2012 benefited working Kansans through significant rate reductions that allowed them to keep more of their own money to spend, save or invest as they chose.
We are also experiencing the real results of our tax policy: growth in jobs and wages that benefit all Kansans. Let me share just a few highlights:
▪ Between January 2011 and February 2015, Kansas added almost 75,000 private-sector jobs.
▪ In February, Kansas tied for first place in America for private-sector job growth for that month.
▪ Kansas is seeing meaningful wages grow faster than our neighboring states. Workers on the Kansas side of Kansas City make $3.33 more per hour than workers on the Missouri side.
▪ We have one of the highest employment-to-population ratios in America.
▪ We are approaching historically low unemployment rates, which can help low-income workers find a way out of poverty at record rates.
Small businesses in Kansas are growing at an annual rate of 6 percent, faster than the nation and all our bordering states. In a state where most of our citizens work for small business, this is important.
Our old tax system was overcomplicated and burdensome. It punished entrepreneurs and savers alike, resulting in slow job growth and limited economic opportunity. Lowering income tax burdens and transitioning to consumption taxes allows for economic growth and more opportunity for every Kansan.
A tax policy that puts more money in the hands of working Kansans and that rewards productivity is resulting in growth in Kansas. Without question.
Sam Brownback is the governor of Kansas.